What Is Mochi? Chew on This Answer

If you’re anything like me, you can’t get enough of mochi’s delicious, chewy, gummy-in-a-good-way texture. These traditional treats are endlessly snackable, not only because of their convenient size, but also the extreme variety of flavors in which they can be made. You name it and, later on, you’re chewing on it, from mango to red bean to yuzu to taro. But, what is mochi? Well, you’re in the right place (in front of your computer or phone, potentially ignoring your duties and tasks in order to learn a little bit more about a specific food. Don’t worry, I won’t tell your boss. We haven’t spoken in years, it’s a long story…). Anyhow, where was I…ah yes, “What is mochi?” Well, heck, let me tell you!  

What is mochi made of?

Mochi is made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice, and sometimes other ingredients such as water, sugar, and cornstarch. Mochi makers pound the rice into paste and mold it into the desired shape. Even though it is enjoyed year-round, mochi is a traditional food for the Japanese New Year, and is commonly sold and eaten in humongous quantities during that time. (By everyone, not just one guy hogging it all. That’d be the worst.)

Is mochi gluten free?

Yes, though you wouldn’t suspect it! Mochi is fashioned from glutinous rice flour which, contradictory to how its name sounds, is naturally gluten-free. Really goes to show you how you can’t judge a book by its cover! Taste a few pages, that book may be gluten-free, too!

How is mochi made?

Traditionally, mochi is made by pounding steamed sticky rice with a wooden mallet during a ceremony called mochitsuki. This aerates and pulverizes the rice, which gives mochi its beloved texture. I recommend looking up videos of the process, because not only is it interesting, it’s hypnotic. Have some mochi nearby though, you’re going to be craving it!

best mochi ice cream

Best Mochi Ice Cream

What’s the best mochi ice cream you can buy? We tasted a bunch of the top brands on the market to find the best mochi ice cream to satisfy your chewy, sweet cravings.

Is mochi Japanese?

Ok, I feel like you’re trolling me since I’ve used the word “Japan” or “Japanese” at least a dozen times over the course of this explainer. But, for the record: Yes, mochi has its origins in Japan. But, lucky for those of us who live elsewhere, it is widely available here in the States at places like Trader Joe’s and Walmart.

Is mochi vegan?

Yes, mochi is made of rice flour, sugar, and water, making it 100% vegan! Just make sure to resist any urge to wrap it in prosciutto. (Also—weird urge, dude. WEIRD urge.) 

How do you pronounce mochi?

The correct pronunciation of mochi in Japanese is “moh-chee.” Mochi is often mispronounced as moe-key or moh-key in English speaking countries. C’mon folks, do the research!

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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